Tamara Rothstein, whom I’ve chatted to about what to pack for London (here and here), Co-founded the sportswear company LAAIN. In my opinion, it’s amazing athleisure clothing for any woman. Here’s our chat about her thinking behind starting LAAIN and why it’s clothing that every woman should own.
Me: Let’s talk about LAAIN, which is your clothing line. How long ago did you start it?
Tamara Rothstein: We started it about 2 ½ years ago.
Me: And you can buy it at Sport-A-Porter.
Tamara Rothstein: You can now buy it at Matches, Bandia which is an America shop for Lane Crawford soon. Fashercise, Net-A-Porter, but there’s quite a few more. We’re just starting eCommerce in a couple of months. But they’re all quite big accounts.
Me: Tell me about Laain, tell me about the line.
When we’re designing, we do design for every woman.
Tamara Rothstein: So we started it, my business partner Sheila and I, we worked together in high-end fashion and we kind of quickly realized one summer when we were doing quite a lot of exercise that there wasn’t really anything for us to wear and then go to a meeting like, city wear. That we could throw on a pair of leggings, do the school run, go to a yoga class, quickly do a freelance meeting. And it was always a compromise. We would look at these pieces of clothing, would either be too sexy, not the right colors, wouldn’t go back to my Jil Sander coat. It would always be this massive compromise and then the fit is wrong.
So we really decided to start something that was sports-inspired and the cuts, we were really fussy about the cuts and the fits and the fabrics. It’s just gone from strength to strength. So we’ve got quite a big following.
I think it really works for kind of a city woman. I’m 35 so it really works in the sense that we do not want it to be too sexy. You know, we’re not living in L.A. So a lot of woman in London or New York or other cities that aren’t maybe by the beach, you tend to cover up a little bit more.
And it’s really focused at outdoor sports, yoga, kickboxing, pilates, training activities. But then it’s also something comfortable you can wear around town. So yesterday, I wore my camo leggings into town with a smart jumper and trainers and my three-quarter length coat and I didn’t feel out of place. So I think it’s almost like this ease of being a mom, being at work, doing it all and not going to be so strict about yourself.
Me: I think that’s great.
We’ve worked it all out so it (the stripe) sits exactly where your thigh gets a tiny bit thicker, so it gives the impression that it’s not.
Tamara Rothstein: And I think for us as well, like a very important thing is when we’re doing these classes, we realized that every time someone bends over, you see everything.
Me: Yeah, I know exactly what your talking about.
Tamara Rothstein: So that’s the thing for like our neckline. We try and do high neckline so it’s not about your cleavage when you’re doing sports.
Me: You don’t have to feel self-conscious about anything. You can just enjoy the activity and know that you’re looking good at the same time.
Tamara Rothstein: Yeah. You just feel good. And I think for us, nothing really needs to match. Like a girlfriend of mine, she loves wearing her top with denim jeans. And she’s like I feel really happy. I feel like I’m going to like an Acid House rave, like in my like green. So I think that’s what we do. We really try to influence street wear with that because, ultimately, sportswear is street wear.
It’s not letting me down in the sense of the fabric is see-through or the cut is not right or it’s giving me a cameltoe.
Me: What are your favorite pieces right now?
Tamara Rothstein: Oh, my favorite pieces are the long sleeve top. It’s a long sleeve top it’s a long sleeve blue, yellow, and gray top.
It sits just on your stomach and it’s quite tight but long sleeves and high neck and then it’s the matching leggings. I just love it.
Me: It’s so chic.
Tamara Rothstein: Yeah. I love it. So it’s meant to be clothing you can wear and you don’t feel too nude in.
Me: So you don’t have to be overtly sexy.
Tamara Rothstein: You don’t have to be.
Me: That turns me off. Like I really don’t think that showing everything that you have is the way to be sexy. It’s not the sexiest thing.
Tamara Rothstein: And I don’t think in sportswear, like for us, our real motif is like sports is for everyone. So at 35 I shouldn’t be being put off sport because I don’t look like 23-year-old in some like yoga wear that looks like you’re going clubbing.
Me: Do you do bigger sizes?
I think women should really love each other. It should be like, it sounds really naff, but it should be this like great sisterhood.
Tamara Rothstein: Yeah. We’ve got up to extra large. And when we’re designing, we do design for every woman. We design for the women who wants something loose and baggy and covering below. With all our leggings, the side stripe of the side of the leg is meant to elongate the leg, and it does. It really works. We’ve worked it all out so it sits exactly where your thigh gets a tiny bit thicker, so it gives the impression that it’s not. Just these really slight design hints.
Me: I need some of those pants.
Tamara Rothstein: Then our colors are really important for us. So we try and put oddity. You see what I mean? Like people can get really… it can all just go a little bit too like flashing your body.
Me: I think so too and it’s just…
Tamara Rothstein: It’s really depressing.
Me: It’s really depressing. And then it creates this competition.
Tamara Rothstein: Yeah. And I think women should really love each other. It should be like, it sounds really naff, but it should be this like great sisterhood. I think it shouldn’t be like, “Oh, look at my body. My body is better than your body.” It should really be about the feeling, the honest feeling.
And our color palette is really important for us. We try and use really kind of quite modern color palette.
Me: I love that.
Tamara Rothstein: So it’s quite subtle, in a way, and quite elegant. Like my girlfriend, she just wears it with a pair of jeans.
Me: I think I would too. I mean, I think it would look really great.
Tamara Rothstein: Yeah. I mean, I know like part of her midriff is showing but I think it’s like a choice thing. There’s room enough to put a vest under it if you don’t. But I really don’t think it’s right about encouraging people, especially young girls. I think it gives off the wrong attitude to what this is all about. It gives off something more about vanity and sex rather than health.
Me: And do you see, because you’ve been in the fashion industry for how long now?
Tamara Rothstein: About 15 years.
Me: 15 years. Do you see the trend sort of changing?
Tamara Rothstein: Yeah. I think people are a little bit more than that.
Me: Embracing a little bit more body styles.
Tamara Rothstein: Yeah. I think so. I think sportswear is such a big thing now. It’s a bit like denim when denim first came around. People were like, oh, it’s only going to last a couple of years. But Frame Denim only launched I think 4 or 5 years ago and it’s huge.
So I think it’s nonsense. I think sportswear is going to stay around because I think there’s so much… I think women have a lot to take on board these days. We’re expected to bring up children, to work, and then all those… like for every woman who works, has children, they’re still having to prepare meals, cook, clean, keep household. I think it would be really few households where the woman works and have children and the man shares with the duties.
You know, I think in a way we’ve got to this point where you want to be more feminist and independent, but with that comes on this like double-job taking. So I think in a way there’s not so much pressure where we have to look smart.
Me: Yeah. We’ve set ourselves up to having it all.
Tamara Rothstein: It’s difficult. It’s really difficult to compromise.
Me: And sometimes unrealistic.
Tamara Rothstein: So really, in the summer, I get my exercise from cycling to work, to meetings. So I’m really happy with our legging now. I can get on a bike and feel smart in them. I think that’s also mainly what I want to do is be able to turn up to meetings in like easy sportswear. Like works really well. It’s not horrendously expensive. And I’m not worried if my daughter’s sticky hands get on them.
Me: Right and you know you look chic. It’s important to feel good about how you look and to be practical.
Tamara Rothstein: Yeah. And it’s not letting me down. It’s not letting me down in the sense of the fabric is see-through or the cut is not right or it’s giving me a cameltoe. Like they’re just like tiny little things. I don’t have to wear it skin tight.
Me: Right. I love it. I think that you’ve really hit on something and I’m a fan. I have pieces.
I think sportswear is going to stay around because I think there’s so much… I think women have a lot to take on board these days.
Tamara Rothstein: That’s so good.
Me: I just think it’s going to be huge. I mean, it already is. It’s already massive.
Tamara Rothstein: Big, yeah, and it’s growing each day. But I think you can’t ever forget to develop and design and push forward.
Me: Yeah. It’s hard work and it’s constant work.
Tamara Rothstein: It doesn’t just look after itself.
Me: Do you guys follow sort of like the spring-summer, fall-winter?
Tamara Rothstein: We used to follow spring-summer but now we do pre- and pre-fall Resort and pre. Because the drop is really ideal for sportswear drops. Instead of being kind of in September, the drop is in just before Christmas. And then we’ll stay through on the shop floor for longer. And then they drop again May-June, so it’s ready for the summer which is really there’s just super moments when people buy sportswear. It’s usually in the summer when you want to get fit and healthy. And your color palette changes. Then there’s the winter sportswear and people really buy that just before Christmas. So we changed that. We’re much happier with that.
Me: It just seems exhausting to do like four collections.
Tamara Rothstein: Yeah, you can’t. You can do different colorways possibly and do exclusive colorways for people. It’s just really exciting.
But we’re just doing a collaboration with something called TruBe, which is a great app which is designed where you can buy eight classes in any city you are in the world.
Me: Oh, I’ve heard of this.
Tamara Rothstein: Yeah. You can book a trainer and it’s fantastic. We’ve been using it quite a lot. And for me, when I’m traveling or all of a sudden I don’t have my daughter because she’s decided to go to her friend’s house and I’m like, oh, I’ve got like 4 hours free, I can quickly book in with a trainer.
And I’m not obliged to use a set time of week. You can just do when you want to choose it. And the other fantastic thing is you can have up to three of you doing it. So I’ve done it a few times with friends.
Me: That is great.
Tamara Rothstein: So we’re doing a collaboration with them where we’re doing their uniforms, which is really exciting. When you meet people and you really believe in them. I just really love the company. So that comes is something exciting moving forward.